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Vocational qualifications

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Why choose a vocational route to university level study?

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Although some university level courses specifically request A levels there are lots of university level courses, offered by both colleges and universities, that will accept vocational qualifications too - especially if the higher education (university) course is related to the Level 3 vocational qualification you have completed.

The new Applied General qualifications, which will be introduced in September 2014 (and that used to be called BTEC, OCR Cambridge Nationals, etc.) have been recognised by at least three Higher Education Institutions (Universities) as fulfilling entry requirements to a range of HE courses, either in their own right or alongside other Level 3 qualifications.

So, you don't have to take the traditional A level route to university level study and many students choose a vocational qualification route instead.

How will they prepare me for HE level study?

Level 3 (Advanced level), vocational qualifications can provide you with a very effective preparation to progress to higher level study. The experience of studying a particular vocational area can also help you make up your mind about the type of work you can see yourself doing in the future.

Many people choosing a vocational route already know the job sector they want to work in and a vocational qualification can give a firm foundation for further study at a higher level as preparation for a future career.

If you choose the vocational route and you later change your mind, you will still have demonstrated a wide range of skills that will be transferable to different subject areas or a range of jobs and careers:

  • Independent study skills (research, organisation, meeting deadlines)
  • Interpersonal skills (communication, team work etc)
  • IT skills
  • Numeracy skills
  • Literacy skills

These transferable skills can be useful whatever subject you decide to study at university.

Are they recognised by universities?

All applications to UK universities go through the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service – UCAS. Vocational qualifications are increasingly being recognised as university entry qualifications in the UCAS points system

About half of the people with vocational qualifications progress to higher education and six of the top ten subject areas in higher education are vocationally-related disciplines. 

When you look at the entry requirements for a particular university course this can be shown in terms of the grades needed and/or the UCAS tariff points required. Even if your Level 3 vocational qualification is not shown in the UCAS tables, it is worth contacting the university direct to discuss your options.

In addition to your qualifications and skills, you may also have considerable work experience to offer and this is often also taken into account in your university application.

If you are interested in a higher education course next or in the future, check out the Careerpilot sction 'HE at 18 or later'.

It’s also a good idea to check out the entry requirements and get advice about choosing degree courses.